The Devil in the Details

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After a week off, I returned for my first lesson where a mask was required. Since the disposable surgical masks are now a little easier to find, I decided to go with one of those thinking it would be a little better than the cloth ones I wear elsewhere. If you’ve danced or exercised with one of these things on, I don’t have to tell you that it isn’t the most comfortable feeling in the world.

Not so much the breathing but just how sweaty it gets. Did take a break part way through the lesson just to get a drink. And were weren’t even going all that hard. I couldn’t imagine actually trying to do a dance to speed with a face covering. More power to those who do. Just not really for me.

I continue to get a heavy dose of technique. Partly because Mini is a big believer in it. Partly because she tells me that standard is more about the technique than American Smooth. We practiced the falling part of the rise and fall. It was all about just being more aware to soften into the knee as you landed and before your heel hit the floor. Guess it cushions the blow a bit but also keeps you from stopping the momentum that would happen if you landed on a more straight leg.

She also changed my pivot in the spin turn. I think because it is hard to generate momentum that you are typically taught to start rotating a bit on the first back step. Nope. All of it is supposed to just come from the left ankle. Step is straight back – keep the thighs together and just pivot using the ankle.

As luck would have it, my left ankle is currently a little weaker than my right. I can tell this because when I try to hold a position where I’m up on both feet, the right foot wants to turn a bit. So I had my moments of self doubt and some frustration because the first time I tried, it barely went anywhere.

This is something I’ve touched on before. There’s another step in the routine where I could never keep my balance. This lesson, we really didn’t even have to touch on it. It came up, I did it and it went fine. I’m telling myself this now to acknowledge that there is progress and very little is going to be perfect the first time you try it. (No matter how much I expect it to be)

I think I’ve written about this before but I’m figuring out that ballroom is all about these little victories. Seeing something the first time and feeling like it can’t be done. And then working like crazy until it starts to become almost second nature. Those are the things I need to celebrate a little more than I do. I tend to focus more on the end product, and, for me, there is still nothing like the first time you can run through a routine and have it all flow together. But it is these little victories during the grind that get you to that final outcome so they are worth noting.

But I’m not going to lie, the end product is more fun than this grinding. And there is still nothing like doing something for real at a Showcase. That’s just not in the cards anytime soon so this will have to do for now.

Mini is currently only working one day a week but is looking to add a second day. For now, I told her that as long as masks are a requirement, I’m not quite ready to jump into multiple lessons. I know that more lessons is better for learning and retaining but the mask is still so alien and a constant reminder that the world is still turned upside down. We’ll see. Again, without a real goal to work towards, there isn’t a lot of need to be in a hurry to get somewhere. I’m comfortable on the slow path for now.

And it doesn’t look like the mask thing is going to end soon. It is true that our highest peak of daily new cases was twelve days ago but there isn’t convincing evidence of things going in the right direction. There is better news in other places but not here yet.

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